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Boxbot Announces $7.5 Million in Seed Funding for Self-Driving Delivery

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【Summary】Boxbot, a startup focused on self-driving delivery vehicles, announced today that it has raised a $7.5 million round of seed funding. This new funding round was led by Artiman Ventures, and includes an investment from Toyota AI Ventures, a subsidiary of the Toyota Research Institute. Boxbot is working to address the ”last-mile” problem in logistics, through a combination of robotics and autonomous systems.

Paul Young    Jun 04, 2018 1:39 PM PT
Boxbot Announces $7.5 Million in Seed Funding for Self-Driving Delivery
author: Paul Young   

OAKLAND, Calif., — Boxbot, a startup focused on self-driving delivery vehicles, announced today that it has raised a $7.5 million round of seed funding. This new funding round was led by Artiman Ventures, and includes an investment from Toyota AI Ventures, a subsidiary of the Toyota Research Institute that invests in early-stage startups in artificial intelligence (AI), data/cloud, autonomous mobility, and robotics.

Boxbot was founded in 2016 by Austin Oehlerking and Mark Godwin, two veteran engineers who formerly worked at Tesla and Uber. The company is based in Oakland, California. Boxbot is working to address the "last-mile" problem in logistics, through a combination of robotics and autonomous systems.

In May 2017, Boxbot won the prestigious Pear Berkeley Challenge competition for their autonomous delivery technology—an annual event that awards $250,000 to a startup founded by students, alumna or professors from the University of Berkeley.

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Godwin serves as Boxbot's CTO and has worked with drones, self-driving cars, and logistics since 2004. While pursuing a PhD at UC Berkeley he developed machine learning algorithms for autonomous vehicles and competed in the DARPA Urban Grand Challenge—a prize competition for American autonomous vehicles, funded by the United States Department of Defense.

Boxbot's co-founder and CEO Oehlerking started working on electric vehicles and robotics at MIT. He joined Tesla Motors and led projects for the Model S electric car as a software engineer.

Last Mile Delivery Solutions

Boxbot is working on autonomous logistics for "last mile" delivery. Last mile delivery is defined as the final delivery destination for goods—generally from a central hub to residential homes. Last mile delivery is becoming more important due to the rapid surge of online orders from companies such as Amazon.

E-commerce sales are expected to reach $1.35 billion by 2018, an increase of 28.8% from 2013 according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. These expected increases span across a variety of product types including apparel, entertainment, food, health & beauty, electronics and more.

Data shows that the last-mile is often the single most expensive part of the delivery process. Global consulting firm McKinsey & Company has estimated that autonomous vehicles will make 80% of last-mile deliveries by 2025.

"Over the next few years, self-driving vehicles will transform the last-mile, making it cheaper to make deliveries and easier to receive them," said Brian Wilcove, a partner at Artiman Ventures. "Boxbot has a unique approach, and deep expertise across the disciplines that will drive that transformation. We're excited to join them on this journey."

The investment in Boxbot is Toyota AI Ventures' first in the self-driving delivery space. With this latest investment, Boxbot has raised a total of $9 million. The company previously raised $1.5 million in pre-seed funding from Pear Ventures, Afore Capital, The House Fund and other angel investors.

Boxbot is not the only company working on autonomous delivery. Nuro, another Silicon Valley startup founded by two former lead Google engineers that worked together on the famed self-driving car project. Nuro is focused on designing a new type of autonomous vehicle altogether that can deliver groceries, laundry, or your take-out order.


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